Lo­cal opera com­pa­nies both do­ing Puc­cini on the same night. What are the odds?

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - LEONARD TURNEVICIUS Leonard Turnevicius writes about clas­si­cal music for The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor. leonard­turnevi­cius@gmail.com


That’s the plain­tive cry com­ing from a cho­rus of lo­cal opera fans. Rea­son? Out of 365 days in the year, the two lo­cal opera or­ga­ni­za­tions — Sa­batino Vacca’s South­ern On­tario Lyric Opera and Boris Brott’s Brot­tOpera — are hold­ing their per­for­mances on the same day, Satur­day, Sept. 16, and at the same time, 7:30 p.m.

And what’s more, they’re both do­ing some­thing by Gi­a­como Puc­cini!

SOLO is staging “La Bo­hème” at the Burlington Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre, 440 Lo­cust St., Burlington.

Brot­tOpera is hold­ing a PopOpera con­cert en­ti­tled “Pas­sion­ate Puc­cini,” a pro­gram of bits and bites from seven Puc­cini op­eras with Amer­i­can so­prano Mary Dun­leavy, Cana­dian tenor Luc Robert and Strat­ford-based bari­tone James West­man in FirstOn­tario Con­cert Hall.

“Yeah, that’s un­for­tu­nate,” said Vacca, speak­ing about the con­flict of dates from this Cam­bridge home.

“Oh gosh, we booked the date al­ready a year ago. We con­flicted with the Hamil­ton Phil­har­monic Orches­tra dates in the past. So I made sure we weren’t con­flict­ing with the HPO (they open their sea­son in FO Con­cert Hall on Sept. 23). And it’s a bit of an early start. The BPAC is do­ing their Cul­ture Days that last week­end (in Septem­ber). So, we couldn’t book it in that week.”

Back in March, SOLO mounted Puc­cini’s “Tosca.” So why Puc­cini to kick off their third sea­son?

“We just thought it would be a great one to start the sea­son with,” said Vacca.

“It’s prob­a­bly one of the top two pop­u­lar op­eras. It’s been a while since it’s been done in the area.”

Vacca is right on his last two points. In a 365-day pe­riod be­gin­ning on Aug. 31, “La Bo­hème” will re­ceive 289 per­for­mances in 47 pro­duc­tions in 43 cities from Vic­to­ria to Burlington to Am­s­ter­dam to Tel Aviv.

It was last staged in the area in 2010 by Opera Hamil­ton.

And speak­ing of Opera Hamil­ton, per­haps some fans will re­call that com­pany’s “Bo­hème,” staged in Hamil­ton Place in Oc­to­ber 2002, in which the ac­tion was moved for­ward to circa-1944 oc­cu­pied Paris.

“We’re keep­ing it a lit­tle bit on the tra­di­tional side,” said Vacca, who in­ci­den­tally was OH’s re­hearsal pi­anist for many years and worked on that 2002 Bo­hème.

“Sets and cos­tumes will re­flect Paris of the 1830s. We did talk about an up­dated ver­sion at a board level, but we just sort of felt that for our au­di­ence right now and for the com­pany where we are right now, let’s sort of keep it safe and tra­di­tional.”

“La Bo­hème” re­volves around the tribu­la­tions of a group of young bo­hemi­ans in the Latin Quar­ter.

SOLO’s all-Canuck cast in­cludes Natalya Gen­nadi Matyu­sheva mak­ing her role de­but as the frag­ile seam­stress Mimì, Michael Marino as the poet Rodolfo, plus Diego Catalá as the painter Mar­cello op­po­site Sara Pap­ini as his love in­ter­est, Musetta.

The philoso­pher Colline is be­ing sung by Dy­lan Wright and Burlington’s Peter Bass will sing Schau­nard, a mu­si­cian.

Austin Larus­son will be heard in two roles, the land­lord Benoit and Al­cin­doro, a state coun­cil­lor.

SOLO cho­rus mem­ber John Dar­rigo sings Parpig­nol, the toy ven­dor. Vacca will be in the BPAC pit con­duct­ing a pickup orches­tra of 32 mu­si­cians culled from the 905 area. The cho­rus in­cludes 35 adults and 10 chil­dren. The set de­sign is by Jane Co­ryell a friend of the stage director, Les­ley An­drew.

For those in­ter­ested in learn­ing more about “Bo­hème,” Vacca will dis­cuss the opera on Wed­nes­day at 3 p.m. in the Burlington Public Li­brary, 2331 New St., Burlington.

A pre-per­for­mance talk on “Bo­hème” will be given at 6:45 p.m. on Sept. 16 in the BPAC’s lobby.

A silent auc­tion start­ing at 6:30 p.m. will in­clude a pair of WestJet tick­ets.

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